Where to eat
Take-aways and fast food
There are several take-aways in town, including EatRite Snack Bar, the Hungry Lion on the corner and Exciting Biting down the street. For a few thousand kwacha, these serve the usual fare of pre-packaged chips, burgers, samosas, sandwiches and soft drinks. They are all in the centre of town, along Mosi-oa-Tunya Road.
If you prefer to sit down, then try the EatRite Snack Bar. Spacious and clean with ample seating, it has a good selection of cool drinks, cakes, pastries, fresh bread and baguettes, soft ice cream, meat pies, samosas, sandwiches and other staples to eat in or take away. Though often crowded, it's convenient, cheap and good. Several of the restaurants below also offer take-aways.
For a long time most of Livingstone's better places to eat were in the upmarket lodges and hotels, which still remain fine choices. However, recently more dedicated restaurants have opened up, offering better variety (Indian, Chinese, seafood, etc) at fairly decent prices. Still, don't expect to find haute cuisine, as food tends more towards standard pub fare and sustenance rather than fine dining. Here's a small selection of the current favourites, though it's also worth remembering restaurants in the other hotels and lodges which often cater to foreign tastes and have more to offer, albeit at higher prices. Funky Munky Pizza Bistro
214 Mosi-oa-Tunya Rd (within 217 area, a half block down from Fawlty Towers); tel: 03 320120. Funky Monky serves great pizzas (eat in or take-away), salads, hot dogs, sandwiches, and a variety of low-priced snacks throughout the day. Its casual atmosphere makes it a good place to pop in for a quick bite or cool drink, or to start your day with a full English breakfast. Open 7:30–20:30 dailyHippos
(located behind Fawlty Towers); tel: 03 323432. Hippos is a popular spot for visitors and local tour operators who come to unwind after a hard day's rafting, touring or guiding. It's owned and operated by Fawlty Towers, and there are signs for it at the corner of the Mosi-oa-Tunya and Kazungula roads. Hippos has a thatched bar and tables scattered around a secluded, walled courtyard, and in winter, you can relax by the fireplace. Its atmosphere is unpretentious and friendly, and the menu changes daily but usually is based around a set dinner, or occasional barbecue. Thanks to a visiting French chef who's trained up their staff, more gourmet fare now features such delights as duck à l'orange and lamb shanks. Expect a good three-course meal to cost about US$10Insomnia Café
Kabompo Rd; tel: 097 878666. From Mosi-oa-Tunya Rd, turn at the sign on to Kabompo Rd opposite Afric Trading, a block down from Total service station. Insomnia serves snacks, lunch and dinner daily, the standard fare of chicken, burgers, steaks, chips, egg rolls, samosas and barbecue wings. The food is good and prices are low – snacks are no more than US$2, and meals no more than US$4 – making it a favourite with budget travellers. They have a full bar, snooker table and satellite TV. On Friday and Saturday nights there is dancing – lots of it (see Nightlife)Laughing Dragon
John Hunt Way; tel: 097 846919. Set behind the museum, laughing dragon serves authentic sechuan chinese food, has a full alcohol licence and will also do take-aways. Run by a family of chinese origin, it has a detailed menu, though much depends on what ingredients are available for them to buy on the day in Livingstone. However, what they do cook is very good, and the quantities are generous. Their chow mein is delicious, and one very reliable correspondent described their deep fried oyster mushrooms as 'too yummy for words'. Expect dinner with several dishes to share to be around us$8–10 each, which is good value for the quantity and quality of the food. Open daily 11.00–23.00Ngolide Lodge's Indian Restaurant
One of the better places to eat in town is this small Indian restaurant, tucked away at the back of Ngolide Lodge. They boast a chef from Bombay (Mumbai) and offer a good variety of tasty Indian dishes – everything from naan bread to lamb curry – and you can also order take-away. A dinner for two with a couple of dishes to share, without drinks, averages about US$30. As it only has a few tables and is popular, do book in advanceOcean Basket
82 Mosi-oa-Tunya Rd; tel: 03 321274/2 or 321264; email: firstname.lastname@example.org. A branch of the South African chain, this new fish restaurant is located in a restored historical building near the junction of Kazungula Rd. It opened in May 2002 to instant local acclaim – quite an accolade in a landlocked country. One shouldn't forget that the freshest seafood is invariably found closest to the ocean; but still, if you have a hankering for fish or prawns, this is the place. Set inside a large secure courtyard with sprawling lawn and ample parking, it offers dining either inside or out on the wide veranda. Staff are efficient and very friendly and the food, served in large frying pans, is good. Expect to pay anywhere between US$3/Kw15,000 and US$9/Kw45,000 for dinner with an average of around US$6/Kw30,000 per dishRite Pub & Grill
Mosi-oa-Tunya Rd. Diagonally opposite Barclays Bank, across from Mini Market, this is a pleasant enough place to stop for lunch, dinner or a drink. Individual booths with their own thatched roof are a bit on the dark side, but nevertheless cosy. A fairly standard menu includes pizzas (and chips) from US$1.30/Kw8,000 up to US$5/Kw25,000 for a large, and there's a full bar.Royal Livingstone
Sun's flagship hotel has a fabulous restaurant, with surprisingly reasonable prices, particularly when compared to the Zambezi Sun next door. The setting is lovely – old-world elegance and comfort – the service excellent, and the food certainly the best in town. Dinner costs from about US$25 each; lunch is about US$15, excluding drinks. The hotel also does a very genteel afternoon tea for about US$10, which includes lovely finger sandwiches and tea cakes, if you feel like a bit of refined luxury.Squire's Grillhouse & Action Bar
Located behind the casino in The Falls (alongside the Zambezi Sun), right off Mosi-oa-Tunya Rd, Squire's is a South African restaurant chain serving fairly standard fare, mostly grilled meat, chicken and fish. It's not terribly cheap, for the quality and quantity provided, though they have a 'happy hour' in the early evening, and some lunch 'specials', which are better value. Its unprepossessing location at the back of the casino is an obvious drawback, and there's noise from the road, but the service is friendly and efficient. Open daily, 11.00–22.00.UTSAV Restaurant
Mosi-oa-Tunya Rd; tel: 03 322259. Opposite the post office, near Mini-Market, this is a small, family-run restaurant/take-away. It serves good curries, naan breads, samosas and tandoori chicken, and also pies. It is pleasantly air-conditioned, and usually has special meals designed to suit impecunious backpackers. Open 10.00 until late. Zambezi Sun
The buffet restaurant here is wide ranging, though at US$25 per person for dinner it's not cheap. Better value is the slightly less expensive buffet brunch/lunch with a wide selection of breakfasts, grilled kebabs, burgers, omelettes to order, salads and desserts. It has a fun atmosphere, especially in the afternoons, and tables are set inside and out around a large pool. When there's live music, it's good value for an evening out, but don't expect cordon bleu standards. Within the same complex are Squire's (see above) and Fegos, a small Italian café serving coffees/teas, snacks and light lunches.The Zambezi Waterfront
The magnificent setting of SafPar's riverside complex of the same name, down Sichango Rd near the entrance to the game park, makes this a great place to dine. You can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner (or a snack) overlooking the Zambezi at affordable prices. The food is good and plentiful with tasty chicken dishes, burgers and chips, soups, sandwiches and daily specials served by friendly staff. There is also a full bar. While it is out of town, it's the kind of place you might go for a meal and stay for hours to savour the riverside ambience.Zig Zag Coffee House & Craft Market
Industrial Rd; tel: 03 322814; cell: 097 760071; email: email@example.com. Zig Zag has moved to a new, purpose-built complex near the railway crossing, just off Mosi-oa-Tunya Rd, and is a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of town. Look for the signpost indicating the turn. Large and inviting, with shady guava, lemon and mango trees, it's a popular place for coffee and cakes, lunch, or Friday-night dinners. Tremazini – toasted filled pitta bread – make a welcome change from the usual run of fast food, as do quiches, pasta, nachos and daily specials, all at around US$1.30–5/Kw8,000–25,000. There's also a full children's menu, a range of desserts and milkshakes and a fully licensed bar.
The multi-purpose site was formerly a textile warehouse, and the space is being used to advantage. There's an enticing pool with grassy surround and changing area (US$1/Kw5,000 for the day, or half price for children), and a children's play area, useful if you want to check out the surprisingly comprehensive Green Fingers nursery at the back. There is also an interesting craft market in the warehouse itself, and you'll soon be able to have a Shiatsu massage for US$10/Kw50,000. And if you've indulged in too much dessert, you can even shed extra pounds in the on-site gym with a qualified personal trainer offering aerobics, Taebo, yoga and fitness classes at US$3 a session. As if all of that wasn't enough, you'll soon be able to stay here as well.
Livingstone's nightlife centres largely around dancing and drinking, although the bars at various restaurants (Hippos, The Waterfront, Sun Hotel, Zig Zag, etc) offer a pleasant atmosphere if you simply want to relax and chat. Those wishing to dance and partake of the 'local' nightlife should try Eat Rite's open-air disco on Kapondo Street (not to be confused with the EatRite Snack Bar on the main road), which moonlights as a nightclub – Steprite Sounds – on Fridays and Saturdays. Dress code is 'no shorts, no tropicals and no vests'. Ravestone, across the street, can also be a fun spot where you can shoot a round of pool as well. The New Fairmount Hotel has a popular disco/dance club (and casino), generally jam-packed on weekend nights. In all of these places, the music is loud, you can dance until you drop and, because they can become very rowdy later in the evenings, it's advisable to venture out in a group.
The Insomnia Café
on Kabombo Road lives up to its name at weekends when it too becomes a lively dance venue. On Friday nights, there is a full-on disco with a professional DJ from Lusaka where you can dance your heart out to the latest tunes, while the equally popular Saturday is 'oldies night', with music from the 70s and 80s. There's a cover charge of US$1. If gambling takes your fancy, you could also try the casino at the Sun International complex.